pyMac would just like to say the 15th September marks 12 months since we said good bye at Heathrow airport. our time in Australia to date has been the adventure and fresh start we hoped for - though it remains a sad fact for us that we can’t share it with all of our friends and family who are now on the other side of the world. thanks for the support you have all given us in our decision and looking forward to seeing you all down under.
well it was a whirl wind trip to say the least - 12 days on english soil - a pub full of friends to catch up with, several times over - 2 new little persons to meet for the first time - a wedding - a sister and her bloke - a mum and dad - grandparents and uncle to boot. so considering the extent of our short endeavour we did bloody well, with a few exceptions we got to see more than a few of you, special thank you’s to those who gave us beds, food, a lift from the airport, a baby to hug, a beer or soft beverage, or just a thoroughly memorable time. congratulations to Sarah and Jason on their brilliant wedding day, and to Col, Jay’s brother and best-man for the shout out in his brilliant speech. i guess he won’t read this but you never know, so thanks again to gramps for the money towards our flights. thank you Mr Bobbin for the great birthday card (you should be selling those in some wanky art/design bookstore). if you were all trying to remind pyMac how much we love you all and how much we should miss you, we have this to say, tough you failed and you still all suck ; ) NOT, we do and we do as it were. guess the next time we see any of you will be down under so maybe Mac needs to get on and ask py ‘the question’ soon…
... to be continued
during the past week we had Sally (py’s mum) come to stay and check out Melbourne. depite the cooler weather we still managed to get out and about, trawling the shops, visiting a couple of galleries and driving along the mornington peninsula all the way down to Portsea (i must say i can highly recommend the vanilla slice in Sorrento’s Just Fine Foods Delicatessen! two interesting facts about this famous vanilla slice; they make over 1000 a day and there is a vanilla slice festival held in Sorrento each year!) a good week had by all, well, except poor old Mac who was up to his elbows in freelance!
now i (Mac) have been known to vent my spleen from time to time, (py nods and grins knowingly). well it just so happens the last time i felt obliged to do so was last week via email to a stranger, little did i know what would follow. so i have decided to post a transcript of said correspondence.
the background is that recently we have been scouring ebay for letterpress type bargains. while i was at work py stumbled across a website selling furniture made from what appaeared to be reclaimed letterpress type stuck together to make up large wooden blocks for lamp stands, clocks, tables and the like. feeling a little hyper after a hard day in the office i decided this apparent butchery of type was just not on and feeling inspired i penned a creatively damning email to the ‘furniture maker’ as follows:
Hi ‘name omitted for privacy’,
I’m sorry to say that it’s businesses like yours that makes me want to tear the walls down. As a designer, a typographer and someone with a huge passion and respect for the craft of letterpress - a dying craft may I point out. It sickens me to the core to see people destroying type in a manner that seems to have no skill or accomplishment itself. Whoopdedooo look at me I can stick some type together and make a clock - purlease release me!!!!!!!!! Leave the type alone and stop destroying what is a dying resource, there are so few complete sets of letterpress type left that what you are doing is tantamount to murdering history.
Sorry but you aren’t the first and nor will you be the last to feel the wrath of my words.
I’m sure you are just trying to make a living and are most likely a decent person but maybe this email will someday ring true and awaken your conscience.
Cold Regards. Tony
well i guess in my haste it hadn’t really occured to me that this guy would email back, most likely seeing me for the sad twisted loser i am. but he did and i am genuinely glad of the correspondence that followed between us. at first he was possibly less defensive than could have been the case, but i suspect he saw some of the sarcastic overtones in my email for what they were:
I’m 71, served a 6 year indentured apprenticeship as a Compositor. 1 pound ten shillings a week for 45 hours. I bought my collection 20 years ago, aiming to do the right thing with it. Unfortunately a Bastard caught me and my wife an illustrator who I met at Art school for all our hard earned money. You can have the lot for 85,000 quid. That’s what I’ve costed my Poster type, using as a yardstick the prices on ebay. Mine is in the correct founts, made by a firm you’ve never heard of in York. Go on see if you can find their name. Bet you can’t.
Its all yours. So put your mouth where your mouth is. You haven’t a clue. A Typographer? please don’t make me laugh. I do it on my PC like you, and its a joke. You would’nt have a clue what it was like in a Chapel, full bore with no breaks.
Hold on I’ve just an order for a coffee table from a well known Englishman, not thefirst I hasten to add. At this rate all 100 cases will soon be gone. Now thats the best news today. By the way there is no flavour in conscience. Keep witing the letters, have you tried writing scripts?
first rate reply, and one that deserved to be respected with at least a thank you email and an endeavour to guess the type foundry from me - script writing eh, now there’s an idea:
I’m glad you replied, my mail was intended to at least get some kind of reaction. It is interesting to hear your background and as you say we all have to make money… While I have obviously never worked the hard shift as a true type compositor in the old skool sense - I’m only 31, my first introduction to type and design at the age of 15 was under a designer who had formally trained as a compositor for a national newspaper in the UK and it was here that my passion for type and typography started. Unfortunately it is something that designers tend to take for granted in this computer age… I wish I had 85, 000 cos I’d quite happily take it all off you, just picked up a full face from a guy in the UK for £50 tonight…
I just think it’s a shame that’s all - this is how things get lost in history, no doubt half the people buying your new work couldn’t give two hoots about how you used to break your back as a compositor or for all the type designers and the crafts and traditions going all the way back to the early guttenberg press.
Well there you go the march of progress, no doubt I’ll one day be making cool framed pictures with keyboard keys and computer monitors and lamp stands all with shiny ‘Apple’ logos on them!!
The only type foundry I know of in York would have been Robert D. Delittle Printer’s Wood Type Manufacturers, founded some time back in the 1800’s was it them??? Stuff comes up in the UK from time to time but not that often, or not complete anyway, most of their collection went to the Type museum in London so if you have some I guess it’s pretty rare - have you contacted them maybe they would buy it from you???
Any hows glad you took up the challenge and mailed me back, script writing eh not too sure about that ; ) thanks for the response and no hard feelings...
it followed that i had guessed the type foundry correctly and this guy had been a very close personal friend of the owner. he had, as a last ditched attempt, tried to find backers for the foundy itself and then the type museum (which never gained successful funding). unfortunately his efforts were unsuccessful, but he managed to buy the last of the collection and has around 100 trays of the stuff. now this must be an amazing collection, the quality of the foundry was highly recognised, but life deals its blows and for financial reasons and the death of the letterpress trade this guy has been forced to make ends meet as best he can - hence the ‘furniture’. it seems a real shame and i guess no one feels the situation harder than the guy himself. as a nice touch he commented that it was not a challenge but a matter of courtesy that he replied to my original email, seems that both an honest trade and an honest bloke have felt the rough end of progress.
i hope that someone out there might read this and maybe, just maybe, have the funds to buy his collection and keep it intact. visit his site here.
technorati tags: letterpress
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